Not many barbecue joints are covered in cartoon drawings of sausages wrapped in rainbows. Especially in Texas. Especially when there’s a third-generation barbecue legacy involved.
But Austin’s la Barbecue, known for its yellow trailer outfitted as such, holds a unique reputation in the world of Texas ’cue in that it’s both steeped in tradition and boasts a willingness to cut against the grain (except, of course, when it comes to trimming brisket). Owners LeAnn Mueller, 45, and Ali Clem, 36, opened for business back in 2011, originally partnering with LeAnn’s brother John Mueller, then renaming it la Barbecue in 2012 with pitmaster John Lewis, who’s since started his own operation in Charleston, South Carolina. Now the two women oversee a team of hungry, up-and-coming pitmasters, though they still quality-check the meats daily and receive report cards on what percentage of briskets turn out perfect.
But la Barbecue’s story doesn’t start in that first dusty, empty lot in South Austin (it’s since moved to the hipper east side), but rather in Taylor, Texas, at legendary destination Louie Mueller Barbecue. Founded by LeAnn’s grandfather in 1949, Louie’s is a mandatory pilgrimage for barbecue lovers; those that ate there in the early ’80s might have seen a young LeAnn working the floor.